(Scott Phillips/NBCSports.com)

Pangos All-American Camp Friday: UCLA commit Lonzo Ball has a great opening night

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LONG BEACH, Ca. – The opening night of play at camps like the annual Pangos All-American Camp is usually sloppy and littered with uninspired basketball.

Between camp teammates barely having a chance to learn each other’s names — let alone complicated sets — and also experiencing travel lag from making the camp, it isn’t necessarily the best time to see a prospect play a complete game of basketball.

UCLA commit Lonzo Ball changed that notion with his play on the opening night of the 12th annual Pangos camp on Friday night.

In a highly-touted matchup of 2016 five-star guards between Ball and Findlay Prep point guard Derryck Thornton, Ball was clearly the better player on Friday night, although the two have dramatically different games.

Ball is just a complete basketball player with a tremendous feel for the game and IQ. At 6-foot-5, Ball is the No. 14 player in Rivals.com‘s 2016 rankings and he has great size with the ball in his hands and the future Bruin is a tremendous passer in delivering to shooters or finding a big man in the post. Ball might be slow-footed defensively to guard quicker lead guards, but his hands and instincts are good enough to still make some plays in the passing lanes against wings that play more off-the-ball.

The 6-foot-1 Thornton is the No. 20 prospect in those same rankings and he has a lot of tools to work with, including a killer first step and crossover. But Thornton spends far too much time pounding the ball into the floor while trying to hunt for his own offense.

While Ball just played basketball and let the game come to him, Thornton instead seemed focused on the one-on-one matchup and it showed with some bad shots and overaggressive drives to the hoop.

Isaiah Briscoe battles Tyler Dorsey: While the Ball vs. Thornton matchup was the undercard of Friday night’s action, thanks in-part to it’s earlier slotting, the main matchup on the opening night featured a pair of high-level guard prospects in the 2015 class as Isaiah Briscoe matched up with Arizona commit Tyler Dorsey.

Briscoe and Dorsey spent a good portion of the game on each other and it made for some interesting basketball in the second game on Friday night. Much like the first matchup of elite guards, both Briscoe and Dorsey got a little too consumed with hunting their own offense, but they both made scoring plays and plays as passers and you can’t fault the clear best players on the floor for wanting to take the majority of the shots.

The slight edge probably goes to the 6-foot-3 Briscoe because he is more effective against physical play and he’s a much better passer — specifically moving the ball up the floor on the break. Dorsey is a better athlete, however, and has more upside getting in the lane and making plays around the rim thanks to his 6-foot-4 size and leaping ability.

Villanova beats Duke, Kansas, Indiana for Jermaine Samuels

Atlanta, GA - MAY 27: Nike EYBL. Session 4. Jermaine Samuels, Jr. #23 of Expressions Elite dunks. (Photo by Jon Lopez)
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Villanova landed a commitment from top 50 prospect Jermaine Samuels on Saturday.

Samuels is a tough and athletic 6-foot-5 wing that will remind many Wildcat fans of Josh Hart. He’s got the same kind of versatility and nose for the ball that will let him guard perimeter players as well as work in as a small-ball four. Players like this are a specialty of Jay Wright.

Samuels picked up an offer from Duke recently and also had Indiana, Kansas and Georgetown in his top five. Beating out blue-bloods for a prospect like this is quite the statement for Villanova, one that should tell you the reigning national champs are here to stay as a national power.

Syracuse lands critical piece in Andrew White

LINCOLN, NE - FEBRUARY 3: Andrew White #3 of the Nebraska Cornhuskers shoots the ball over Rasheed Sulaimon #0 of the Maryland Terrapins during their game at Pinnacle Bank Arena on February 3, 2016 in Omaha, Nebraska. (Photo by Eric Francis/Getty Images)
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Syracuse has found their replacement for Malachi Richardson.

On Sunday, Nebraska transfer Andrew White committed to the Orange, picking Syracuse, in the end, over VCU. White is a graduate transfer who spent last season with Nebraska, where he averaged 16.2 points while shooting 41.2 percent from three. A top 50 prospect out of Virginia back in the Class of 2012, White played a limited role for Kansas his first two seasons in college.

This is a significant pickup for the Orange, one that legitimately puts them into the conversation as a Final Four contender and a threat to finish at or near the top of the ACC. Jim Boeheim has put together a roster full of talented, long and athletic front court players, but after Richardson declared for the NBA Draft as a one-and-done freshman, he was left with just two back court players on his roster.

Earlier this offseason, Cuse landed Colorado State grad transfer John Gillon, a 6-foot-1 combo-guard, to reinforce their back court. The addition of White gives them a lights-out shooter and a big-time scorer on the wing, something that would have been a major void on their roster.

With Paschal Chukwu getting eligible at the center spot and Tyler Lydon likely landing on every breakout player list this preseason, the Orange should be a markedly better team than the one that made their way to the Final Four last season.

Arizona lands first commitment in 2017 class

Alex Barcello (Jon Lopez/Nike)
(Jon Lopez/Nike)
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Arizona landed their first commitment in the Class of 2017 on Friday night as point guard Alex Barcello pledged to Sean Miller and the Wildcats.

Barcello is a 6-foot-2 point guard from Tempe who plays his high school ball for Corona del Sol. He committed to the Wildcats on an official visit to the Tucson campus.

Barcello is a borderline top 100 prospect who sits at No. 123 in the Rivals top 150. He’s known for his ability to shoot, and he’s more of a combo-guard — i.e. shoot-first — than a point guard at times, but he’s a nice pickup and projects as a solid four-year player for the Wildcats.

Virginia, Indiana, Stanford and Butler were the other four schools on Barcello’s list.

Duke lands first commitment in 2017 class

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Alex O’Connell knew exactly where he wanted to play his college ball, which is why, just two days after picking up an offer from Coach K and the Blue Devils, he became Duke’s first recruit in the Class of 2017.

O’Connell announced the on twitter on Friday afternoon:

O’Connell is a four-star prospect from Georgia that had a terrific summer, going from being a borderline top 75 prospect to a player that caught the interest of Duke, who, along with Kentucky, sit atop the college recruiting hierarchy. He’s an explosively athletic and lanky 6-foot-6 wing with three-point range on his jumper. He needs to add some weight and some strength — he’s listed as a crisp 175 pounds — but he has the tools, and the swagger, to develop into a very effective player in the ACC.

Is he a one-and-done prospect?

Probably not. In fact, since 2010, Duke has landed just two players that were rated lower than O’Connell: Antonio Vrankovic and Jack White. If you know who both of them are, you’re probably either Jon Scheyer or lying.

But what O’Connell is is a kid who put in the work to get better this past year and who has the skill set, the physical tools and work ethic to continue to improve. He may not be on Grayson Allen’s trajectory, but O’Connell has the makings of being an impact player for the Blue Devils for three or four years.

Alex O'Connell (Jon Lopez/Nike)
Alex O’Connell (Jon Lopez/Nike)

Shaka Smart lands contract extension at Texas

Texas head coach Shaka Smart instructs his team in the first half of an NCAA college basketball game against Baylor on Monday, Feb. 1, 2016, in Waco, Texas. (AP Photo/Tony Gutierrez)
AP Photo/Tony Gutierrez
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Shaka Smart has already landed himself a contract extension at Texas.

The school, according to the Austin American-Statesman, has given Shaka a one-year extension — through the 2022-23 season — and bumped his salary up to a cool $3 million, a raise of $100,000 annually.

Smart’s Longhorns went 20-13 last season and lost on a half court buzzer beater from Northern Iowa’s Paul Jespersen. It will be tough for Smart to match the success that he had last season, specifically because he lost senior point guard Isaiah Taylor to the professional ranks.

That said, the former VCU head man has been reeling in quite a bit of talent from the state of Texas — namely, Andrew Jones and Jarrett Allen — and is not all that far from turning the Longhorns back into a relevant member of the Big 12 title race.